Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Outward, not inward?

If I sometimes seem to quote the same few people in this blog, it's because they keep on saying good stuff. So my apologies for yet again quoting David Fitch.

It is common in church planting for N. American churches to rush in a.) naming a main leader and b.) starting a public service (what has often been called the launch). For instance: the Acts 29 Network – a training network for planting churches – puts an unusual importance on a.) choosing a strong male leader to plant the church, and b.) the launch of a service where “the gospel” is preached clearly, contextually and authoritatively.

The impression here is that the preaching itself, led by a strong male leader, is sufficient to draw the lost into the gospel.

Although there is much to be thankful for in what God is doing with Acts 29, for me, this is an approach heavily dependent on the cultural conditions of Christendom. The preaching requires people already habitualized to go to church and hear a sermon. It requires people who understand the language. It organizes the church structure toward the centre – where the single strong leader is – instead of outward where lost people are.

It will work where there are wandering peoples who have a Christian past and/or have discontent with existing forms of church (i.e. Roman Catholic or traditional evangelical) who are easily drawn to something new and impressive. This is not, however, a Missional strategy because in many ways it sets the new community up to be a centralized attractional community. Its dynamic works against invading the rhythms of a context, living the gospel in ways that invade the secular spaces of the world that is living oblivious to God and His work in Christ for the world. If we would be missionaries, we need to think differently about congregational formation. [My italicizations]

David has more to say.....see here.

Just checking out the Acts 29 site, it's a bit disconcerting to see that there's a considerable emphasis on men as leaders on this site. One of the tweets in the right hand column of the home page says this: God uses MEN to plant lasting churches [their emphasis]. However, when you go to the actual video, the title - and emphasis - is slightly different: God needs men to plant churches.


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